Haringey social worker who failed to report sex abuse allowed to find new work

Diane Onyango (Picture: Kevin Dunnett/Central News)

Diane Onyango (Picture: Kevin Dunnett/Central News) - Credit: Kevin Dunnett/Central News

A former Haringey social worker who failed to raise the alarm about a 12-year-old girl claiming she had sex with her mother’s boyfriend will be allowed to return to work - if she can find an employer.

Diana Onyango, who worked for Haringey Council from 2008 until 2011, was first suspended from working by a professional tribunal in 2013.

The Health and Care Professions Council tribunal has now ruled that Ms Onyango can return to work as a social worker, with restrictions in place.

While Ms Onyango was working for Haringey council, she made several errors.

She was contacted by a 12-year-old’s school after the girl was overheard discussing the alleged abuse and exhibiting sexual behaviour.

Ms Onyango failed to tell anyone, even though she knew that the girl was registered with social services as a “child in need”.

The social worker continued to allow the mother to speak to her daughter on the telephone and told her of the sexual abuse allegations. She failed to realise that the alcoholic mother may have been complicit in the abuse.

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In a second failing, Ms Onyango did not visit the home of a two-year-old, despite worries about domestic violence.

When Ms Onyango was first suspended in 2013, the tribunal heard that she was inexperienced in dealing with child protection cases.

It heard that Haringey had failed to notice that Ms Onyango was out of her depth and struggling.

Ms Onyango, who had worked as a social worker in her native Uganda, told the tribunal that as all children in Uganda were at risk from their surroundings, she was unprepared.

A tribunal has now ruled that Ms Onyango can return to work as a social worker when she her suspension ends in December 2015.

There will be conditions, or restrictions, in place on her until December 2016.

As part of the restrictions, Ms Onyango must attend a risk assessment course, specific for looking after children.

She is also not to work as a keyworker for safeguarding children for a local authority, in the initial period of going back to work.

Ms Onyango will be allowed to work with children who need safeguarding, but not as their key worker. She will be supervised by a social worker, who must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council.

A Haringey council spokesperson said: “In accordance with our standard procedures we took action to address concerns and see that these were properly investigated. We note the findings of the tribunal and it would be inappropriate for us to comment further.”